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The Basic Economic Problem. UK bonuses soar to £44bn beating pre-financial crash peak for the first time | Business. Eight years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers sparked a global financial crisis, the spread of Britain’s bonus culture from the bankers of the City to the hi-tech startups of London’s Shoreditch has seen pay top-ups leap to a new record level. While regular pay growth has remained modest for most UK workers, generous bonuses at firms outside the financial sector have pushed bonuses above their previous pre-financial crisis peak.

Total bonus payouts in the year to the end of March rose 4.4% to £44.3bn, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures – with the biggest cash payments still going to the financial services sector. The total in cash terms beat the record of £42.5bn that had stood for the past eight years – and threatens to reignite controversy about how key staff are remunerated. Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the TUC, said: “UK workers have suffered the biggest fall in wages of any developed country apart from Greece. Many car brands emit more pollution than Volkswagen, report finds | Business. A year on from the “Dieselgate” scandal that engulfed Volkswagen, damning new research reveals that all major diesel car brands, including Fiat, Vauxhall and Suzuki, are selling models that emit far higher levels of pollution than the shamed German carmaker. The car industry has faced fierce scrutiny since the US government ordered Volkswagen to recall almost 500,000 cars in 2015 after discovering it had installed illegal software on its diesel vehicles to cheat emissions tests.

But a new in-depth study by campaign group Transport & Environment (T&E) found not one brand complies with the latest “Euro 6” air pollution limits when driven on the road and that Volkswagen is far from being the worst offender. “We’ve had this focus on Volkswagen as a ‘dirty carmaker’ but when you look at the emissions of other manufacturers you find there are no really clean carmakers,” says Greg Archer, clean vehicles director at T&E. UK households to choose water supplier under Ofwat shakeup | Business. Households would be able to choose their water supplier for the first time under proposals from Ofwat which it claims would cut bills and improve services by introducing competition. However, the proposed overhaul of British water supply would only save households about £8 a year on their water bill, the industry watchdog said. Under the existing system homeowners can only buy water from a handful of regional suppliers such as Yorkshire Water, Severn Trent or Thames Water.

But a report by Ofwat suggests restructuring the industry to encourage new entrants to the market in an effort to improve services and bring down bills. The new regime would allow private companies to buy water in bulk from the existing major suppliers and sell it on to households. They could also offer packages including other services such as gas or electricity, Ofwat said.

The plan echoes a similar overhaul of water supply to businesses, which will be able to switch their supplier from next April. Competition Policy Case Study - Royal Mail Privatisation | Economics. AS Microeconomics Study Notes - Topic Listing | Economics. Analysis Skills for AS Micro Exams | Economics. Evaluation Skills for AS Microeconomics Exams | Economics. Recent Resources on Market Failure (Jan 2016) | Economics. The National Health Service (NHS) Explained | Economics. Anti-Dumping Duties and WTO Rules | Economics. The statistics behind UK steel job losses. Why is China economic growth slowing? Agency warns of teacher recruitment crisis. Why won’t oil producers cut supply to boost the price? Ebola: $5m vaccine deal announced. Image copyright Getty Images The Vaccine Alliance, Gavi, has signed a $5m (£3.5m) deal for an Ebola vaccine, to protect against future outbreaks of the deadly disease. The deal commits pharmaceutical company Merck to keeping 300,000 vaccines ready for emergency use or further clinical trials.

It will also submit an application to license the vaccine by the end of 2017, which would the next step towards enabling Gavi to prepare a global stockpile. More than 11,000 people have died in the latest outbreak in West Africa. The sheer scale of the outbreak - the largest in history - led to an unprecedented push on vaccines, which condensed a decade's work into less than a year. Merck has led trials of the VSV-EBOV vaccine - which combines a fragment of the Ebola virus with another safer virus in order to train the immune system to beat Ebola. Early evidence from studies in West Africa suggest it may give 100% protection, although more data is still being collected. 'Wake-up call'

Energy firm E.On cuts gas prices by 5.1% Image copyright Getty Images E.On has announced a 5.1% reduction in its standard gas price for residential customers. The company said the cut was the price equivalent of £32 off the average annual bill. It is the first time in six months that any of the big six energy firms have cut their prices. Last week both the regulator and the prime minister expressed concerns that prices were not being cut in line with falls in the wholesale cost of gas. E.On also claimed it now has Britain's cheapest fixed energy tariff, with the launch of a one-year dual fuel product with an average price of £783. 'Right step' The news was welcomed by the regulator, Ofgem.

"This is a step in the right direction and it is good to see some movement in energy prices for consumers," said Dermot Nolan, the chief executive of Ofgem. "We have consistently called on suppliers to explain why retail prices are not falling and this price cut goes some way towards addressing that challenge. " Cheaper bills. Slump in oil prices drives green energy takeup in top exporting nations | Environment. The oil price slump below $30 barrel is spurring some of the world’s biggest oil exporters to curb domestic consumption of fossil fuels and invest in wind and solar power, according to government officials meeting in Abu Dhabi. A month after the historic climate agreement in Paris, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and other oil exporters are in the midst of overhauling domestic energy policies and seeking alternatives to oil and gas for electricity.

The main motive is not reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but cutting back on domestic energy demand that is taking up a rising share of production. Oil exporters would rather sell their fossil fuels abroad than burn them at home, government officials attending meetings of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) said. “It is just common sense in my opinion,” said Saad Salem Al Jandel, a research scientist at the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research and a delegate to the Irena meeting. Marmite Easter eggs – the final frontier of brand extensions? | Media Network. Not long ago, opinions about salty-sweet candy combinations ranged from “curious” to “disgusting”. Marks & Spencer was ahead of its time when it introduced salted caramel chocolates in 2006; consumers were put off by the mix of flavours and the line failed. By 2015, salted caramel sweets are ubiquitous and nearly a cliche. So the news of Unilever marrying its Marmite with Kinnerton chocolate in a flavoured Easter egg should warrant barely an eyebrow raise.

So why does it still get attention? As brand extensions go, a savvy marketer could make a good case for the Marmite egg. When considering possible brand extensions like this, marketers need to ponder, could we, and should we? Kelloggs took a should we approach when extending its basic Special K cereal brand, introduced in 1955. In the broader media space, Netflix and Amazon have extended their brands into original programming. So, should you extend your brand? 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Felicia Rosenzweig is a partner at Prophet More like this. Buy a house under a mile away and save £1million. The average price drops by £280,000 moving from Vauxhall to Stockwell on the Victoria line, while house values plummet another £480,208 when moving from Stockwell to Brixton, the data revealed.

At the other end of the Victoria line, prospective homeowners can save £390,465 by looking around the Highbury and Islington area rather than King’s Cross. A home in Wembley Park is £600,000 more expensive than one in Finchley Road, as the distance between the two stations spans tube zones 2 to 4. “Savvy buyers looking for the next tube hotspot should consider where new gaps could appear along the network, such as the Northern line extension to Nine Elms and Battersea in South London,” said Russell Quirk, the founder of eMoov. “Over the next few years these locations and their surrounding areas will see a dramatic rise in house prices and demand as they open the new service.” Tesco's store closures and abandoned developments - interactive | Business.

Tesco may have breached groceries code in two areas, says adjudicator - video | Business. Royal Mint sells gold bars directly for the first time. Investors can buy them through a Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) or Small Self-Administered Scheme (SSAS) and benefit from their marginal rate of tax on their gold purchases. Lisa Elward, the Royal Mint’s head of international sales, said: "The combined heritage and integrity of the two brands is an added reassurance to customers looking for a cost effective way of buying gold and silver from a trusted source.

" Owning a gold bar or gold coins isn’t the only way to invest in precious metals, however. Gold coins and bars are a popular choice for people want to enjoy and appreciate them, and they can often become collectors items. Another popular option for people with several thousand pounds to invest are exchange traded commodities (ETCs) - funds that track the performance of a commodity price.

Adrian Lowcock, head of investing at AXA Wealth, said: “ETCs are also more suitable as a pure investment, as they can be bought and sold more quickly. Royal Mint revives 'refinery' brand with new gold bars. 21 January 2015Last updated at 08:21 ET By Brian Milligan Personal Finance Reporter, BBC News Some of the new gold bars, which have risen significantly in value this month The Royal Mint is to produce gold and silver bars under its "refinery" brand, last used nearly 50 years ago.

It is the first time since 1968 that the public will be able to own bars imprinted "RMR", standing for Royal Mint Refinery. The Royal Mint Refinery operated in London for more than 100 years, purifying gold and silver bullion from places such as South Africa. However, production stopped at the end of the 1960s. The largest bar on offer will be 100g of either gold or silver. According to current prices, a 100g bar of 24 carat gold costs £2,868. The 100g bar of fine silver costs £71. The new 100g fine silver bar currently costs £71 Investment potential However, buying gold can be a risky investment, since the price has performed poorly over recent months.

Gold – investing. Cheaper oil: Winners and losers. OECD: changes must cut inequality, not just boost economic growth | Business. Politicians must focus on policies that ensure stronger economic growth goes hand in hand with fairer distribution of the gains if they are to stem rising inequality, a leading economic thinktank has said. Analysing the effects of pro-growth policies on inequality, the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has identified widening gaps in wealth distribution in many rich nations, with the the poorest hardest hit.

The OECD urges governments to prioritise policies that help reduce inequality while also boosting growth, such as more education for low-skilled workers and measures to get more women into work. The recommendations, part of the thinktank’s annual “Going for Growth” report, are being unveiled in Istanbul on the first day of the G20 finance ministers’ meeting in the Turkish city. Greece’s falling GDP per head Overall, the thinktank is gloomy about inequality trends across its 34 member countries. Inequality has widened. Labour to double paid paternity leave to four weeks. 9 February 2015Last updated at 05:53 ET Labour says the plan will give children "the best start in life" A future Labour government would double the amount of paid paternity leave available to new fathers from two to four weeks, Ed Miliband has announced. The Labour leader has also pledged to increase statutory paternity pay by more than £120 a week to £260 a week, paid for by savings in tax credits.

Some business leaders have said the £150m move amounts to a business "tax". A new system of shared parental leave championed by the Liberal Democrats comes into force in April. The Lib Dems are also proposing, in future, a month's worth of paternity leave after a child's birth on a "use it or lose it" basis. The Conservatives have supported greater flexibility in parental leave, arguing that all future spending policies need to pass a "families test". 'Crucial weeks' "Thanks to the last Labour government, fathers have two weeks' paid paternity leave. 'Tax on business' 'Think big' Have your say. Cheer for motorists as fuel prices hit five-year low. Land and property Stamp Duty Tax calculator. Discount store Netto back trading in UK. Discount supermarket Netto is back trading in the UK after opening its first store under a partnership with Sainsbury's. The site at Moor Allerton, in Leeds, will be followed by another 14 over the next year as part of a trial scheme funded by Netto owner Dansk Supermarked and Sainsbury's.

Netto left the UK market five years ago when it sold its 198 stores to Asda. Emma Simpson reports. Discount supermarket Netto is back trading in the UK after opening its first store under a partnership with Sainsbury's. The site at Moor Allerton, in Leeds, will be followed by another 14 over the next year as part of a trial scheme funded by Netto owner Dansk Supermarked and Sainsbury's. Netto left the UK market five years ago when it sold its 198 stores to Asda.

Emma Simpson reports. Pharmaceutical industry gets high on fat profits. Image copyright Thinkstock Imagine an industry that generates higher profit margins than any other and is no stranger to multi-billion dollar fines for malpractice. Throw in widespread accusations of collusion and over-charging, and banking no doubt springs to mind.

In fact, the industry described above is responsible for the development of medicines to save lives and alleviate suffering, not the generation of profit for its own sake. Pharmaceutical companies have developed the vast majority of medicines known to humankind, but they have profited handsomely from doing so, and not always by legitimate means. Last year, US giant Pfizer, the world's largest drug company by pharmaceutical revenue, made an eye-watering 42% profit margin. Stripping out the one-off $10bn (£6.2bn) the company made from spinning off its animal health business leaves a margin of 24%, still pretty spectacular by any standard. 'Profiteering' "The amount of money saved is huge.

" No loyalty Courting doctors Getty. Osborne 'expects' fuel price drop after fall in oil price. UK unemployment falls below two million. 15 October 2014Last updated at 10:29 ET The UK unemployment total has fallen below two million for the first time in almost six years, official figures show. The number of jobless people fell by 154,000 to 1.97 million in the three months to the end of August, the Office for National Statistics said. The drop, which is bigger than analysts expected, took the unemployment rate to 6%, its lowest level since late 2008. But wage growth remained stubbornly below the current 1.2% inflation rate. In total, there are now 30.76 million people in work. <div class="warning"><img class="holding" src=" alt="George Osborne" /><p><strong>Please turn on JavaScript.

Chancellor George Osborne: "There are still too many people out of work and we need to go on working through our plan" Chancellor George Osborne said the fall in unemployment was "evidence that our long-term economic plan is working". "The UK labour market remains strong. Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports sold in £1bn deal. Who are the "big six" energy companies? Switching sites hiding best energy deals, claims rival. Child poverty set to rise, says social mobility commission. Housing market at 'plateau' as mortgage rates fall, CML says. Drinkers offered pill to help reduce alcohol consumption | Society.

Price elasticity of demand. Shoppers lose appetite for big supermarkets. UK house price growth rate slowing, Halifax says | Money. Unemployment. Economy tracker: Unemployment. Ebola outbreak: Britain sending 750 soldiers and medics to Western Africa - Health News - Health & Families - The Independent. Milk: NFU urges more supermarkets to help dairy farmers. Dairy farmers protest over milk price cuts. TUC - Britain at work.

Citizens Advice  - the charity for your community. Microeconomics Table of Contents. Competition and Markets Authority.